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Pipeline to the White House?


Whenever the usual centrist/corporatist Democratic Party presidential candidate needs to burnish the old Green credentials, they can always count a on a cabal of funders, professional “greens,”  incurious media and gullible public to buy into whatever do-nothing/sounds good eco-charade they cook up.

2000’s Keystone Pipeline

Back in 2000, Al Gore was attempting to greenwash off the stain of the Clinton Administration’s many eco-travesties; starting immediately after Inauguration with backsliding over toxic waste incinerators.  After seeing Ancient Forest logging on Public Lands in the Pacific Northwest stopped for the last half of the Pappy Bush Administration, environmentalists and species saw it resumed quickly in Clinton’s first months in the White House under his Option 9 Northwest Forest Plan – in reality, an Extinction Plan for northern Spotted Owls and other old growth-dependent species. The pro-Democrat Big greens called it “our greatest victory.”

Not content with resuming the liquidation of remnant public Ancient Forests, Clinton soon signed into law the “Salvage Rider;” Section 2001 in the emergency Appropriation Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-19, July 27, 1995. This Act pushed a massive, expedited (read: relevant laws suspended) logging of forests based on “Forest Health” – the latest rationale; the forests are dying and burning, so we need to “salvage” what we can – fast. That, however, still wasn’t enough. The Rider also “released” a number of Ancient Forest sales that had been halted, after considerable conservationist pressure, due to habitat concerns.

Add in the dire ecological consequences of Clinton’s Foreign Trade policies – Nafta and GATT ; his opening of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska to drilling; the failure to control carbon despite heralded international conclaves to address to the Clinton/Gore Administration’s bad forest policies…and Democratic presidential hopeful Al Gore was getting desperate.

Riding to the Greenwash rescue was “The Roadless Rule.”  After three years of dithering, the Forest Service adopted what is known as the Roadless Area Conservation Rule – on Jan. 12, 2001, as Clinton was headed out the White House door. Supposedly, it would place all inventoried roadless public-owned lands in the US off limits to development. The Big Greens all crowed “Clinton saves 58.5 million acres” and Gore had his new coat of verdant paint.

Of course, not one single acre got inviolate “protection.” Eleven years later, very few of the acres have actually garnered inviolate protection – none at all directly due to the Roadless Rule.  Yet, hundreds of thousands of those acres have already seen some level of development since Clinton “saved” them. Annually, we have “Defend the Roadless Rule” “Roadless Rule at Risk” fund-raisers overflowing the mailboxes and e-mails.

Fast Forward to 2011.

The Keystone Feint

The press is awash with stories about the proposed Keystone Pipeline – said pipeline to be built to deliver Alberta’s Tar Sands carbon to refineries in Texas.  Thousands of folks, led by globe-trotting (read: carbon-spewing) pied-piper Bill McKibben, were recently arrested outside the White House protesting the pipeline…many wearing their Obama 2008 shirts and buttons. The follow-up has been a series of op-eds by famous folks decrying the Pipeline.

What no one is noting, however, is that the US is already awash in Tar Sands oil. It’s flowing into the country in thru a spiderweb of multiple existing pipelines. Last years’ 900,000 gallon Kalamazoo spill was Tar Sands oil.   This year’s Yellowstone River spill was caused by corrosion of the pipeline from having used it to transport tar Sands oil.  Ironically, many of the arrestees flew to DC on jets partly fueled with Tar Sands oil.

Just like Bill Clinton’s 2000 Roadless Rule, the Keystone Pipeline is 2012’s eco-feint. The DC “Greens” and their Big Oil Foundation funders began the cynical ploy back in 2008.

Anti-Tar Sands oil ads began appearing in major papers in 2010. They were run under the rubric of something called the No Tar Sands Coalition. Just who and what is that?  The New York Times called it “an assemblage of several environmental groups.” Yes, another non-incorporated, non-democratic group with no voting membership or any accountability to any larger movement…funded by Big Oil Foundations! The Coalition’s own internal documents state that the decision-making structure should be “Invisible to the outside.”

What Foundations? What Groups?

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave $250,000 to Corporate Ethics International in 2009 “for its campaign to reduce demand for tar sands oil.” Other foundations, notably the Pew Charitable Trust (Sun  Oil Co-derived); the Hewlett Foundation; and, the Ford Foundation funnel funds thru the Tides Foundation to the “invisible” decision-makers at the Coalition.

Corporate Ethics International is a San Francisco group with $1.6 million annual revenue led by executive director Michael J. Marx. Marx, co-founded ForestEthics and was the force behind the dastardly Great Bear Rainforest sell-out. / Marx is now the “invisible” coordinator of the No Tar Sands Coalition, controlling funding (approx. $7 million since 2008) and determining just what pliable groups get that funding for the effort.

It’s also worth noting that the fall-back “alternative” talking point of the coalition is “Renewable Energy” and every one of the funders (not to mention, Al Gore and his carbon off-sets millionaire cronies) is heavily invested in “alternative energy” (read: mining tax subsidies; killing forests for Biomass). Every one of the foundation-dole “leaders” of the coalition assiduously brings up the “renewable energy” talking point. Conversely, they never mention Obama or any other Democrat in any accountable way and refuse to let anyone (even a stalwart like Ralph Nader) speak at their functions if they might attach some of the blame to Obama.

Willful Ignorance

Well, here’s how it’s gonna play out:

The Pipeline is an election-year set-up.

They don’t intend to build it; never did; don’t need to. As noted, Tar Sands oil is already here coming in thru multiple existing pipelines.

It’ll work like this:

1) sometime next year, Obama will rescind approval for the Keystone Pipeline;

2) the Dem-captured Big Greens will crow “Obama sees the light;” even though Tar Sands oil will still be flowing to US refineries; even though during the recent White House protests, Obama backed-off on clean air rules that would prevent some 12,000 annual deaths by reducing ozone pollution; even though he backed off on opposition to Japanese whaling; even though the administration increased off-shore drilling permits (even after the BP spill!); even though “controlling carbon” has disappeared from any proposed energy bills…

3) the media will report only that “Obama stops the Keystone Pipeline;”

4) the incurious “members” of the green groups will use the “Obama stops the Tar Sands Pipeline” coat of Greenwash to justify their vote for reelection. Many will plan to fly there again on jets fueled with Tar Sands oil for the Inauguration.

To this day, some still believe the Roadless Rule is real…just as many will believe that Obama’s new-found, election-year opposition to the pipeline, though not to Tar Sands Oil itself, is real.

Michael Donnelly is a long-time environmental activist in Salem, Oregon. He can be reached at:

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at

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